Crushed Lentils with Tahini and Cumin ~ if you love hummus, try this healthy Middle Eastern lentil appetizer from Yotam Ottolenghi! It’s a warm dip that’s hearty, satisfying, and so delicious.
This is my second attempt from YotamOttolenghi’s PLENTY MORE, his new collection of vegetarian recipes and my current cookbook obsession. This is a comforting appetizer, or really even a light meal, which is how I ate it, and it is soooooo good. As I was scarfing it down with my freshly made pita bread I tried to pinpoint exactly what was so pleasing about it so I could report back to you, but after a few bites I lost the battle. Words, thoughts, table manners… they didn’t stand a chance against the warm plate in front of me.
You’ll just have to trust me on this one…it’s a little like hummus, but it’s chunkier and has more depth of flavor…there is not one element I would remove from the mix; the Puy lentils are soft yet retain their shape, the tomatoes, cumin and cilantro give a background bite, the tahini is so luscious and creamy, the raw red onions give you a sweet sharp crunch, and I know I don’t need to tell you about eggs cooked just to the point where the yolk is solid. You need it all, and it’s all just perfect.
It occurred to me, too, that this dish is a rare example of a comfort food that is actually healthy. It covers all the bases without meat, fat, or empty calories. The eggs and the pita really make it a complete meal, so if you’re in the mood to try something non-traditional for dinner, or if you’re trying to cut back on meat, this is a goodie. It comes together in under an hour, with hardly any effort.
To go with your crushed lentils with tahini and cumin, try my Homemade Pita Bread, or my Homemade Laffa Bread, both authentic Middle Eastern flatbreads that are easy to make.
Reader Rave ~
“This is a go-to for a meatless entree in my house. I think it’s traditionally a side dish but we make pitas, from your recipe, and make them sort of like tacos. Even my kids eat this and my husband enjoys it as well which is saying a lot for a meat eater! Love this recipe.” ~ Brittany
Crushed Lentils with Tahini and Cumin
- 1 cup small green Puy lentils look for the smaller ones, sometimes called French lentils, not the regular ones
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- scant 2 cups finely diced tomatoes
- a full cup of cilantro leaves or as many as you can muster
- 1/4 cup tahini paste
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice I used one lemon
- salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1/3 small red onion sliced very thinly
- 4 eggs hard boiled
- hot smoked paprika regular paprika, or sumac
- a good drizzle of olive oil
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the lentils. Turn down the heat a bit and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the lentil are just cooked. The small Puy lentils don't get mushy like regular brown lentils do. Drain the lentils and set aside.
- In a large skillet melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and cumin to the pan and stir for about a minute.
- Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan, along with about half of the cilantro, and the lentils. Stir to combine, and let it cook for a minute.
- Stir in the tahini, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt and lots of fresh ground pepper. Let cook gently, for about 5 minutes.
- Note: Ottolenghi adds a little water to the pan, I didn't need it. He also says to mash the lentils with a potato masher at this point. I didn't do that, I preferred the texture of the soft but whole lentils. It's your call.
- Serve the lentils hot, sprinkled with the sliced onion and the rest of the cilantro, along with the cooked eggs. Drizzle with olive oil and dust with paprika. Eat with pita bread.
notes and variations
- Ottolenghi calls it crushed lentils, but I didn’t really crush them, the cooking renders them soft and I didn’t feel the need to mash them further. If you are going to serve this as an appetizer you might want to crush them a bit so they are easier to scoop up with bread.